Scapular winging is a common shoulder issue that affects many people, especially those who work out or play sports.
It’s characterized by the shoulder blade pulling away from the body, giving it an awkward and often painful appearance.
Scapular winging can develop for many reasons, but it’s typically caused by weaknesses in your muscles that support your shoulder joint or problems with your glenohumeral joint (shoulder joint).
If you feel like you have scapular winging, try doing some of these scapular winging corrective exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your posture.
Scapular winging is a condition in which your shoulder blade sticks out and moves independently of your upper back.
You might also hear it called dyskinesis or dysfunctional scapulae.
Scapular winging can affect your posture, interfere with your performance during exercise, cause pain, and indicate weakness in certain muscle groups.
It’s also a sign that you need to strengthen some muscles and stretch others.
Fortunately, there are plenty of correctives you can do to fix it yourself at home.
If scapular winging is something you’ve noticed lately or think you might have (your physical therapist would be able to diagnose it for sure), here are seven corrective exercises to improve mobility in your upper back and shoulders.
These techniques can help reinforce good habits and rewire bad ones so you can stop winging.
The first step to fixing scapular winging is figuring out what muscles are causing it in the first place!
The following two common muscle imbalances contribute to unhealthy postures like scapular winging:
Tight pectoralis minor: A tight pec minor shortens your chest, forcing your shoulder blades together and often pulling them up toward your ears.
Weak lower trapezius: This draws more attention than its counterpart, but an underactive lower trapezius allows slack in your rotator cuff, leading to poor position of the shoulder blades and subsequent abnormal movements caused by a tight pec minor.
Weak serratus anterior: This important core stabilizer helps hold your shoulder blades where they should be—down against your rib cage—while keeping them level.
When it weakens, your shoulder blades get pulled forward and down into winged positions.
Another problem area to keep in mind when examining factors contributing to scapular winging is overhead movement patterns such as push-ups and overhead presses.
Overhead work has become increasingly popular among lifters over the past decade or two because everyone seems to love bench pressing.
But throwing too much volume into one plane of motion can shift muscle balance throughout other areas, contributing to issues such as scapular winging.
Scapular winging is a term used to describe a shoulder condition in which one or both of your shoulder blades are pulled back toward your spine.
People with scapular winging have a tendency to shrug their shoulders, and they can appear hunched over as they walk around.
The shoulders tend to tip forward while shrugging because of weakened muscles on either side of your upper torso.
Scapular winging can be difficult to treat, but there are specific strength-training exercises that you can do to prevent its development and help fix it if you already have it.
Here are seven corrective exercises to help fix scapular winging.
This exercise will strengthen your upper back, which can help pull your shoulders down and improve scapular positioning.
To perform a yoyo row: Grab two 5-pound dumbbells.
Hold them vertically in front of you.
Bend at your elbows so they’re parallel to the floor.
Pull upward until your elbows touch overhead Repeat 3 sets of 10 reps daily.
Seated reverse flies will also help strengthen weaker muscles on each side of your chest.
These muscle groups play an important role in keeping posture straight by strengthening shoulder stabilizers, such as the serratus anterior.
They will also assist in maintaining balance throughout your entire upper body.
To perform seated reverse flies: Sit tall.
Place your hands behind you and make sure your palms face away from each other.
Slowly lower yourself forward until you feel a light stretch in between your shoulder blades.
Pause for a moment before slowly pushing yourself back up into starting position.
Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions daily.
Do not rush through these exercises; only move slowly to ensure proper form during every repetition.
If performed properly, you should focus on feeling your pecs work without any strain on your neck or upper back.
You should not feel any pain when doing these movements—if you do, see a doctor immediately to rule out any underlying conditions.
Always remember to take care of your shoulders!
Using the pec deck machine at least twice per week will help develop stronger pectoral muscles and prevent poor posture.
If you currently suffer from scapular winging, use light weights (10 pounds or less).
Avoid using too much weight as that could cause more harm than good—especially if neck/shoulder pain is involved.
Lighten your weights accordingly and focus on slow, controlled movements.
Other machines to try include cable crossovers, cable pulleys/resistance bands, and free weights.
The lat pulldown exercise works similar muscles involved in helping create healthy posture (pectorals/latissimus dorsi), so adding it to your routine once or twice weekly is a great way to get double duty out of a single workout session.
Again, begin conservatively with lighter weights (around 50 percent of your maximum capacity) instead of jumping right into heavy training loads because those extra few ounces could end up making all the difference in reducing discomfort caused by winged scapulae due to muscular weakness.
Before performing your first set, you might want to experiment with a few different grips and handle positions until you find which variation feels most comfortable.
To perform lat pulldowns: Use a standard grip with wide handles attached to a high-pulley bar Stand facing away from the machine with arms bent (slightly greater than 90 degrees)
Grasp handles, lift back up, and slightly squeeze shoulder blades together Lower weights to upper chest level Pause, then raise arms back up to original start position Repeat 3 sets of 12 repetitions daily.
The key to successful performance is focusing on drawing your shoulder blades slightly closer together at the top of each rep and remembering that it’s about quality rather than quantity here.
Slow and steady wins that race.
As with any exercise program, listen to your body and speak up if you feel pain or excessive soreness to avoid injury and gain optimal results.
The T-bar row is also a useful exercise option to help target muscles responsible for scapular alignment.
To perform a T-bar row:
Set your bench height so it’s just below your knee joints Lie facedown on bench Reach arms under bar Grip ends of bars
Pull weights toward chest
Pause slightly, then slowly release until arms are extended again
Repeat 3 sets of 8 repetitions daily—and don’t forget to breathe!
Another great exercise option to help target and strengthen muscles that affect scapular winging is a simple push-up.
To perform a scapular push-up:
Lie on your stomach, with arms fully extended underneath you keeping arms close to your body, slowly bend elbows until they are at a 90-degree angle.
When elbows reach 90 degrees, hold for one second
Pause slightly before lowering yourself down again
Repeat 3 sets of 8 repetitions daily.
Focus on completing each repetition from beginning to end in a fluid manner so that you’re not switching from regular push-ups to modified ones halfway through.
The wall slide is another great exercise option for targeting muscles that influence scapular positioning.
To perform a wall slide: Lie on your back, with one arm extended overhead and palm flat against a wall.
While keeping your elbow pressed firmly against the wall, slowly drag your arm down to the side until you feel significant resistance at the shoulder Repeat 2 sets of 10 repetitions daily.
Once again, be mindful of doing each repetition from beginning to end in a fluid manner so you’re not switching from regular push-ups to modified ones halfway through.
By spending two or three days per week working on these movements and incorporating them into your fitness regimen, you should notice improvements within six weeks or less—with persistent and consistent effort on your part.
The trapezius muscle, in particular, is connected to each of your shoulder blades. When tight and immobile, your trapezius can lead to a condition called winged scapula or scapular winging.
Also known as an upside-down heart or a humpback deformity, these terms refer to when you have a prominent acromion process on your shoulder blade (which is where you will find part of your trapezius).
Some individuals are born with an acromion that is already very prominent (such as when someone has a bump on their shoulder).
Other people develop prominent acromions because they do not stretch their trapezius muscles enough.
To help prevent health issues related to scapular winging, it’s important to exercise both strength and mobility in your upper back.
Exercises like pushups, pull-ups, and even yoga poses can help improve mobility in your shoulders while strengthening your lats at the same time.
This way, you won’t experience pain anywhere in your body.
Start doing consistent scapular winging corrective exercises now!
If left untreated, there may be other more serious conditions down the road from scapular winging.
These include thoracic outlet syndrome and rotator cuff tendonitis.
Since many cases of these ailments result from weakness, stretching and strengthening exercises can go a long way toward improving your range of motion and overall musculoskeletal health so that you don’t feel pain any longer.
In fact, properly targeting problem areas early on could keep injuries at bay altogether – helping you perform better during everyday activities or workouts!
Scapular winging, also called dyskinesis or dysfunctional scapulae is a condition in which your shoulder blade moves abnormally out of its normal resting position.
Your shoulder blade can be winged in any direction from its usual resting position.
The main symptom is pain in your upper back and neck as well as a limited range of motion at your shoulder.
Scapular dyskinesis is often caused by other medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, but you may experience problems even if there are no underlying diseases present.
If you have pain near your shoulder blade that won’t go away with self-care treatments, it’s important to talk to a doctor about possible causes and appropriate treatment options.
When Should You See a Doctor? : You should see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment when:
To find out whether you need an X-ray, MRI scan, or another diagnostic test, ask yourself what you’re feeling. Is it constant — such as severe dull ache — that never goes away?
Is it intermittent (comes and goes)? Does pain shoot down one arm?
There are many reasons why you might be experiencing muscle imbalance, but in terms of what causes scapular winging, it boils down to muscle imbalances around your shoulder blade.
The upper trapezius is responsible for elevating and retracting your shoulder blade.
When it’s not functioning correctly, your shoulder blade is pulled downward and inward—it kind of wings outwards towards your spine.
A few things can cause these imbalances:
Poor posture, poor use of muscles, repetitive motions like typing or playing tennis, or even a hunchback posture from carrying around a heavy backpack will all contribute to creating muscle imbalances that can cause scapular winging.
It’s important to work with a trained professional who understands how the body works. Prevention is easier than recovery.
If you experience any pain due to scapular winging then make sure you visit your doctor as soon as possible because there may be underlying health issues causing it.
Scapular Muscle Imbalance Exercises for Corrective Scapular Winging During daily life, people tend to slouch over their desks at work or sit slumped in front of their computer screens when they get home.
Additionally, many suffer from text neck because they spend so much time hunched over their smartphones reading messages and emails—all of which can lead to muscle imbalances over time and affect posture if they aren’t corrected early on.
We recommend doing them before bed every night to help avoid more serious conditions such as rounded shoulders, low back pain, and frozen shoulder syndrome (adhesive capsulitis).
This exercise helps improve strength in your latissimus dorsi muscles, which run along both sides of your torso beneath each arm near your armpits.
This exercise also helps strengthen two other sets of muscles found in between those lats: serratus anterior and rhomboid.
Together, these three muscles provide a lot of core stability for your upper body when you’re moving around and lifting heavy things.
If any one of these stabilizing groups is weaker than it should be, you can end up with hyperkyphosis or kyphosis.
That happens when there’s too much compression on your thoracic spine because it has no support—since all that weight gets transferred right to that upper portion of your vertebrae without proper support from all those surrounding muscles.
Start by lying facedown on an exercise mat with a slight bend in your elbows so that only just a few inches separate them from touching while they hang straight down toward the floor behind you; don’t rest anything against a wall!
Then, exhale as you pull your elbows backward.
Hold for a second, inhale, and then exhale again as you let go of your arms until they’re straight out from your body again at about chest level.
Repeat 15 times if possible to start with; eventually, work up to 3 sets of 15 reps once per day.
This simple exercise puts lateral strain on each side of your torso using just resistance tubing:
After wrapping it securely over one ankle, lift that leg upward until it reaches hip height—make sure not to rotate your pelvis or let any part of your torso sag!
Then return slowly to starting position and repeat 10 times total; do 3-4 sets daily if possible.
The next thing we want to focus on after increasing muscle tone in your lower back and abdominal muscles are activating some of those larger upper body muscles like pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi.
Lie faceup with bent knees and place palms flat onto thighs.
Exhale as you press your elbows into the ground next to your hips, keeping elbows close together; keep wrists neutral so that forearms remain vertical throughout movement.
Inhale as you straighten your arms back up until hands are directly above knees; make sure to keep your head centered on the ground.
Exhale again as you press hands downward toward the floor, fully extending forearms once more but making sure elbows never touch tibias below hips.
An easy way to answer that question is to look at what causes scapular winging in the first place.
In most cases, it’s a muscular imbalance between opposing muscle groups—for example, your trapezius and serratus anterior muscles.
That imbalance can be caused by improper posture, poor form during exercise, or even issues with other muscle groups like your rotator cuff.
When you reverse those causes of scapular winging, you’ll also be reversing their effects on your body.
Reversing these symptoms doesn’t always mean you can get rid of them altogether; they can usually be controlled enough so they don’t hamper daily life.
But over time, if left untreated, it could lead to permanent damage and other musculoskeletal conditions down the road.
By working on stabilizing your shoulder girdle through rehabilitative training (like yoga) or working with an expert physical therapist who specializes in improving movement quality, you’ll be able to bring proper mobility back into your shoulders while reducing inflammation caused by scapular winging.
To get rid of your scapular winging and chronic neck pain, you need to fix your posture by strengthening your core and performing specific corrective exercises.
One exercise, in particular, is a great way to strengthen your rhomboids (the muscles responsible for pulling shoulders back) and prevent scapular winging:
The Two-Arm Scapular Protraction with External Rotation.
Here’s how to do it: Stand upright with a weight in each hand (or use band tension), palms facing each other; arms are straight at sides at shoulder height; maintain the natural curve of lower back or neutral spine.
Inhale through the nose as you slowly raise arms forward, then exhale through the mouth as you lower arms back down towards hips until elbows touch sides.
Focus on keeping upper arms perpendicular to the floor throughout the movement; keep elbows tucked in.
Squeeze shoulder blades together for two seconds at top before returning them to starting position.
Breathe normally throughout the movement.
Return to starting position; repeat 15 times, focusing on contracting your rhomboid muscles, while maintaining the natural curve of the lower back/neutral spine.
Repeat 3-4 times per week and enjoy improved posture!
When it comes to fixing a problem with your shoulder, you’ll want to get things taken care of as quickly as possible.
The fastest way to deal with a potentially serious issue like scapular winging is by working on fixing your posture.
That’s right: Work on building up your upper back muscles and improving how you sit in your chair and sleep at night, and that should take care of it—but what if it doesn’t?
There are still some great exercises you can do at home or while working out that will help to tighten up and build up all those muscles around your shoulder blades.
It takes time, but sometimes that’s just how long it takes to reverse muscle imbalances.
With patience and dedication though, you’ll be well on your way to having healthy shoulders again soon enough!
Here are five great corrective exercises for improved scapular positioning:
(Also, don’t forget about your diet! You’ll need plenty of protein for muscle repair after strenuous exercise… which means extra chicken breasts!